Kendall Waston and Ike Opara - 2017

With the influx of allocation money, the trade market within Major League Soccer has been flying.


On Monday night, Sporting Kansas City and Minnesota United cannonballed another huge allocation-money splash across the league when the Loons acquired defender Ike Opara for $900,000 in total allocation money plus $100,000 in incentives. Opara, 2017 MLS Defender of the Year, is now the most expensive defender in MLS history by way of allocation money.


What was the context for the move? What trades made in recent years can we coalesce into a reasonably objective price tag on a premier MLS center back? 


Notable defenders traded since 2017

Player
Total Allocation (Incentives)
Season
Age*
<a href="https://www.mlssoccer.com/players/ike-opara">Ike Opara</a>
$900k + ($100k)
2019
30
<a href="https://www.mlssoccer.com/players/kendall-waston">Kendall Waston</a>
$750k + ($75k)
2019
31
<a href="https://www.mlssoccer.com/players/tim-parker">Tim Parker</a>
$500k + Felipe
2018
25
<a href="https://www.mlssoccer.com/players/walker-zimmerman">Walker Zimmerman</a>
$500k + No. 1 Allocation Spot
2018
24
<a href="https://www.mlssoccer.com/players/greg-garza">Greg Garza</a>
$450k
2019
27
<a href="https://www.mlssoccer.com/players/nick-hagglund">Nick Hagglund</a>
$300k + No. 1 Allocation Spot
2019
26
<a href="https://www.mlssoccer.com/players/keegan-rosenberry">Keegan Rosenberry</a>
$300k + ($100k)
2019
25

*Age at beginning of season traded

FC Cincinnati are responsible for three entries on the list, as the league's latest expansion side focused a large chunk of their allocation money on building back-to-front, acquiring left back Greg Garza and center backs Kendall Waston and Nick Hagglund. They also sent a not-insignificant bundle of allocation money to the Portland Timbers for right back Alvas Powell.


Prior to this offseason, the most expensive defenders were in their mid-20s, when Tim Parker was shipped to the New York Red Bulls not long after Walker Zimmerman headed for LAFC


Where does Opara rank in the league's biggest trades in recent seasons, irrespective of position?


Big money trades since 2017

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Player
Total Allocation (Incentives)
Season
Age*
<a href="https://www.mlssoccer.com/players/david-accam">David</a><a href="https://www.mlssoccer.com/players/david-accam"> Accam</a>
$1.2m
2018
27
<a href="https://www.mlssoccer.com/players/darlington-nagbe">Darlington Nagbe</a>
$1.05m + (600k)
2018
27
<a href="https://www.mlssoccer.com/players/justin-meram">Justin Meram</a>
$1.05m
2018
29
<a href="https://www.mlssoccer.com/players/dom-dwyer">Dom Dwyer</a>
$900k + ($700k)
2017
27
Ike Opara
$900k + ($100k)
2019
30
<a href="https://www.mlssoccer.com/players/fanendo-adi">Fanendo Adi</a>
$850k + ($100k)
2018
28
<a href="https://www.mlssoccer.com/players/christian-ramirez">Christian Ramirez</a>
$800k + ($200k)
2018
27

*Age at beginning of season traded

David Accam leads the list after the Philadelphia Union acquired him ahead of the 2018 sesaon, about a month after Atlanta United traded for Darlington Nagbe. 


The Timbers were sellers in two of the trades, as Nagbe and Fanendo Adi both came from theRose City. Opara is the only defender, as well as the oldest, though the money swapped in Waston's trade isn't far behind.  

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